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Pay My Own Way

Last Wednesday night, Nicole and Shasta, two pretty blond girls, sat alone in a booth in the center of the sprawling BeachPlace Irish bar Sally O'Brien's. Both 24-year-olds were on vacation from Iowa and had already had a brush with Lauderdale men trying to turn 20 bucks into a heavy-petting session.

Nicole, whose pale blue eyes cast a beam of Midwestern goodness beneath the swath of blond hair smoothed across her forehead, told it like this: "Last night, a couple of older gentlemen bought us drinks. We had a shot with them."

Generosity. Gratitude. Right?

Wrong.

Nicole went on: "They tried to get as much conversation out of it as they could. As soon as we set the shots down, they were like, 'So... you're from out of town?'"

Turns out, the mooks thought they'd put a down payment on the women's time and attention.

Nicole continued: "We went back to our side of the bar, and they kept hopping bar stools, coming closer to us as they bought us more drinks. Then, when they got to where we were, they kept rubbing my back all night long."

What did you do?

"I just turned away and talked to Shasta."

She thought the cold shoulder was sufficient. Guess this Midwestern bumpkin didn't know that the lecherous mooky goobers in the subtropics think they can thaw a paltry little impediment such as, let's say, a woman's complete and utter disinterest.

"You didn't tell them to stop?" I asked.

She looked at me with a slight embarrassment and replied, "No."

"I understand," I replied.

It is weakness, in a way, for a woman not to express her discomfort. But gents, come on. You need to face the fact that when a girl's shoulders are growing tenser as your back massage progresses and she's way too hot for you, you've become a slithery, eight-armed goob. Not only is your embrace willy-inducing but women compare horror stories and laugh at you behind your back.

But they often don't say anything directly because if they did, they'd run the risk of creating a scene and being labeled a frigid bitch.

Of course, the hairy-palmed letch has a line for every awkward encounter.

The coy tomcat: "Hey, sorry. I didn't mean anything by it."

The clueless mook: "Whoa, what's your problem?"

The medicine man: "Maybe you should let me buy you another drink to calm your nerves."

Another woman I met recently, Candice, a no-nonsense, 27-year-old woman with slicked-back hair, hoop earrings, and casual jeans and sneaks, doesn't let the shabby daddies get the upper hand for a greenback.

"Basically, I pay my own way," she said, as she sipped a drink she'd gotten herself on a recent Sunday night at Ebar. The club's weekly break-dance party was under way, and a small crowd was taking turns showing one another up in the entryway.

But, Candice said, she's not beyond observing a man's spending habits to assess his character. "It's a challenge to see if they will [offer to] buy," she said. "That way, you see whether they are able to take care of simple things like dinner. It's also a challenge to see where they're at."

I asked her about men imposing expectations on a woman for the price of a drink or a meal, and she said, "I've never been in that situation because of the way I carry myself. If he's bugging me during dinner, I'm like, 'I'm trying to eat, OK?'"

So what does she think of gold diggers (the subject of my last column, "Pay to Play," April 7)?

"I like to look at people from the inside out. A gold digger is a user and is no good for anybody."

In strolled her friend Cindy, a 31-year-old with round cheeks and a small mouth that frequently broke into a babyish smile. But when she spoke, she was all woman. "If I plan a date, they come to my house. I think it rocks a man's world when a woman cooks for him. I know exactly what I'm doing."

So, you buy the food?

"Yeah, but... a woman should never pursue a man... I pay for things myself. I do things my own way. Some people might say that makes me gay. But, I'm strictly dickly."

Despite her dickly disposition, the young woman remained cynical about the double-gaming of the three-thumbed sex: "They always have an old lady, [but] they still wanna have one on the side. The lady on the outside is never gonna step on the inside."

How do you feel about that?

"I think it's real shitty."

A few doors down, in the bathroom at Porterhouse, I met Kathy over a cigarette. She's a tall, 43-year-old woman with short, dirty-blond hair who's wearing khaki pants and an off-the-shoulder shirt. She stretched her leg out across the counter as she unloaded her take on men and money:

"I want a man that's a man. He could be the poorest motherfucker in the whole world. Money is pain. Money doesn't matter. I like thugs, guys who have a lot of problems, guys who've been in jail... I hate a man that's a wussy."

You're not going to buy her affection, no sir, and only the lionhearted need apply.

Back at Sally O'Brien's, the young, blond recipient of an unsolicited back massage gave an economicool take on a man she could actually take seriously: her husband.

"The first time he asked me out on a date, he said, 'What would you say if I asked you to dinner and a movie?' I answered, 'I'll go if you let me take you out the next night. '"

Which, as history tells it, led to the night after and all the nights ever after. Girlfriend cracked her own wallet for a man who was, evidently, worth a shit.

Something to consider.

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Courtney Hambright

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